A bipartisan coalition of U.S. lawmakers is seeking clarity from the Biden administration regarding its strategy to counter China’s expanding utilization of RISC-V chip design technology. This move follows a recent Reuters report highlighting growing concerns about this technology within Congress.
RISC-V, often pronounced as “risk five,” represents a free and open-source alternative to proprietary technologies offered by companies like Arm Holdings and Intel. It holds versatility, finding applications in everything from smartphone chips to advanced AI processors.
Prominent U.S. companies such as Qualcomm and Google have embraced RISC-V, and China has also shown considerable interest. The concern raised by lawmakers stems from the fact that RISC-V falls outside the sweeping export controls imposed on chip technology destined for China, potentially posing a national security risk.
A more extensive group of 18 lawmakers, comprising five Democrats, is now seeking answers from the Biden administration regarding its strategy to prevent China from gaining a dominant position in RISC-V technology and potentially exploiting it to the detriment of U.S. national and economic security. This group, which includes the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat from a select committee on China, as well as Democratic representatives from several states, also seeks insights on applying an existing executive order that could necessitate export licenses for U.S. companies collaborating with Chinese counterparts on RISC-V technology.
In their letter, the lawmakers stress the importance of open-source collaboration on RISC-V for the advancement of the U.S. semiconductor industry. However, they emphasize that this collaboration should serve the purpose of technology improvement rather than advancing China’s technological and geopolitical interests.
The Commerce Department has acknowledged the receipt of the letter and confirmed that Secretary Raimondo will respond through the appropriate channels.
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